THE PCG Q&A
Plenty of games didn't even have endings in the Before Times, back when putting together a credits sequence would have involved actually crediting game designers rather than letting them sneak their names in via Easter Eggs. And it's not like the stories in old games needed resolution anyway, although if you've been wondering what the plot of Pong is all this time now there's an RPG about it. Still, once games started having endings players started obsessing over them.
What's the first game you remember finishing? Here are our answers, plus some from our forum.
Tyler Wilde: At first I thought it had to be Myst, but there's no way I could've finished Myst on my own in 1993, given that I was a kid and I'd give up on its puzzles even now. It turns out that what I remember is my mom finishing it (I asked). That probably doesn't count, then, and I'm betting that she was the one who actually beat Prince of Persia, too. (Update: Just asked about that, and yes.) Maybe my mom beat all the games I spent my life thinking I had beaten. Except for The Oregon Trail. I'm pretty sure I made it to the end of The Oregon Trail on my own. The trick is to do the opposite of what you think is a good idea as an eight-year-old.
Jacob Ridley: Pandemonium! The first game I can remember playing from start to finish is Pandemonium! on PlayStation. It's all a little fuzzy, but I recall winding levels, plenty of platforming, and a man in a skin-tight jester's outfit that still haunts me to this day. I'll give a shout out to Klonoa: Door to Phantomile, as well. I can't remember if I ever finished it, but I sure remember trying to for many, many hours.
Robin Valentine: I think it must've been Lylat Wars aka Star Fox 64, playing co-op with a neighbour. But of course that game was super short. For the most part, as a kid I was dreadful at actually completing games. They were definitely harder back then, but I think I also must have lacked some fundamental drive to see things through. I can tell you all sorts of games I played for ages and never finished: Sonic the Hedgehog, The Secrets of Monkey Island, Simon the Sorcerer, Super Mario 64, Startopia… er, no, I don't know why I can only think of games starting with S right now. I think this question may have broken my brain.
Rachel Watts: Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Spellbound. I've never seen the TV show, but the cover art of a cute, sassy girl with magical powers and a black cat must have caught my attention when I was younger. I played it from start to finish multiple times and still remember the ending cutscene. I also remember playing Disney's Hercules on PC but only replaying the first couple of levels because it was too difficult for me...
Dave James: The Untouchables. Back when Ocean made movie tie-ins... well, back when Ocean made any kind of game... The Untouchables was undoubtedly one of the best. It was also the first full game I can remember finishing on my Commodore 64. Pulling out key scenes from the Oscar-winning movie—with the most Scottish Irishman ever to grace the cinema—the game is just as much of a classic through my rose-tinted specs.
I mean, who could forget the stop-the-baby-getting-shot-or-crashing-out-of-its-pram-down-the-stairs set piece? It was also arguably the first cover shooter, having you pop out from the side of an alley with your double-barrelled shotgun to lay waste to Capone's goons, and dodging bullets atop the roof of the Chicago courthouse to ensure that Nitty gets his in the final bloody chapter.
Harry Shepherd: Age of Mythology. I can scarcely remember the last game I finished, let alone the very first. Ensemble Studios' divine strategy game certainly wasn't the first I ever played, but the ones that preceded it are a just too hazy for me to recall. Then again, I used cheats throughout my time with Age of Mythology, so arguably I never properly completed it. Then I was both too young to feel shame nor notice the irony in playing a game about doing battle with deities in god mode. Good times.
Wes Fenlon: Conquests of Camelot. Man, this was a tough one. There were several games I played with my dad as a kid, on a number of PCs throughout the years. Zaxxon, Montezuma's Revenge, and some submarine game on our 8086, and then LHX Attack Chopper on our 386. But I know we didn't beat any of those games, because they were hard as hell. Later I played tons of Command & Conquer and Warcraft 2 on my own, and I definitely finished those campaigns, but like Harry I think I had to use cheats to do it. So I'm going to go with another game my dad and I played together, which was Sierra's Conquests of Camelot.
Like most Sierra point-and-click adventure games, it was hard as hell, with obtuse puzzles and dead-ends that would kill you without mercy. We got stuck for months on the riddles of the stones, and when we returned to the game we definitely printed off some kind of walkthrough to guide us through the far harder later parts of the game. But I distinctly remember finishing it, years after we bought it, and that was quite a sense of accomplishment. I still have the map that came with the game, too, tucked away somewhere.
Lauren Morton: Freddi the Fish and the Missing Kelp Seeds. Well, either that or Pokemon Yellow but I figure I'd go with the PC game, right? Most of my PC games before the year 2000 were educational-ish games rented from the library. The first one I beat was probably Freddi The Fish. Or at least I think I beat it. I wasn't very good at the classic adventure game inventory puzzles back then. I asked my mother for help a lot, which required me explaining to her how I needed to like find food to distract the fish dog so I could get in the cave or whatever. To this day she (jokingly) refers to any RPG—I guess because they have quests?—as Freddi the Fish. Fallout? Freddi the Fish. Dragon Age? Freddi the Fish. Disco Elyisum? "Lauren, is this another one of those Freddi the Fish games?" Yes, mom. Yes it is.
Christopher Livingston: Gosh, it may not have been the first and it wasn't on a computer, but I distinctly remember finishing the original Legend of Zelda on the NES. It wasn't easy—no internet walkthroughs way back in 1986, so I had to personally try the blue candle on every single damn tree and place a bomb on every single damn rock wall in Hyrule. It's the kind of patience and perseverance I distinctly lack today. But I was the first of my friends to finish it, which felt awesome. It was also a nice surprise that after finishing the game the world was remixed—items and dungeons were in different places so if you played through again you couldn't simply do what you did the first time.
Steven Messner: LEGO Island. Most of my earliest gaming memories were on the NES, where I'd sink days into playing Kirby, Mario, and whatever else we had. I probably didn't start playing PC games until I was six or seven years old, but my earliest memory of beating a PC game is Lego Island. I didn't remember much, so I just sat down to watch this YouTube video of the first 30 minutes and it was like being hit with a tidal wave of memories. What a ridiculous game Lego Island was. Like, batshit crazy. Every character is so overly animated—bouncing around the screen, pulling off limbs and flip-flopping about. It's nuts, and I loved it as a kid. I can't say just how many times I beat it, but if I had to guess it'd probably be well over 20. I lost countless afternoons exploring the island, trying to figure out puzzles that weren't actually puzzles or just seeing how I might break the game.
Andy Chalk: I'm pretty sure that the first game I ever beat was Bedlam, an old TRS80 text adventure about breaking out of an insane asylum. There was a mad doctor and a stern, scowling nurse, barking guard dogs, and a handful of maybe-delusional characters who might be helpful, or might just jerk you around. It was all very cliched and definitely not great, even by the standards of the day, but to my very young mind it was magic: A new tale of epic adventure with every replay! (Although it didn't take long for even very-young-me to figure out that the randomization didn't actually run very deep.) I recall the ending being pretty bad too: There are four or five ways to get out but they all resulted in basically the same single-line "you have escaped!" type of message, at which point everything stopped and you had to hit the "break" key to end the game.
Ah, those were the days.
Jody Macgregor: The old Apples in my school's computer room only had two games on them. One was a demo for Warlords 2, and the other was Prince of Persia. Because Prince of Persia had a one-hour time limit, making it to the end was doable if you had a double period in the computer room and a teacher who didn't pay attention.
I'm not sure I even realized games could have endings before that—I played a lot of arcade games and their home versions where the closest thing to "beating" them was making the score hit 9999 or whatever then flip back to zero, which we called "clocking". I clocked Space Invaders, but Prince of Persia was the first time I saw a game with a story through to the finale. Good times.
From our forum
Dan: The first game I actually remember completing was either Silver (1999) or Outlaws (1997). Back then, I didn't have a large library of games, so I would tend to finish a game before moving onto the next. I also mainly played demos, as I didnt have the full games (I still have a couple of CD Gamer demos from 98-99 in my collection), and unless it was my Birthday or Christmas, there was no way of me getting any new games.
Biggly: Zork, I think, sometime in the mid 80s. And ditto @Dan - for the same reason, it wasn't until around 2000 that I stopped completing every game I owned. These days, moving onto something else when I get stuck has almost become the rule, rather than the exception.
What I think I'm saying is, I'm not hardcore any more 😕.
OsaX Nymloth: As a kid I suppose I knew games had endings - but it took me a while before I ever saw a "you're done, go do something else" screen. I don't believe I finished any of the first games I had on my first PC. Doom II for example, scared me with some mid-game demons and every time I saw barons of hell I noped out. I was apparently very easy to stress as a kid, duh.
When I think about the questions, hm.... it's tough actually. I had a lot of demos from computer magazine that came together with a CD (and then later, a DVD or two!) so I don't count finishing these. Maybe Fallout 2? I remember the feeling of awe at the destruction of oil rig, the bitter-sweet feeling of finishing an amazing journey across the wastelands. It was also the game that "taught" me a lot of English - yup I had a dictionary on the desk next to me so I could translate some of the dialogues and descriptions. I remember being weirded out by "ordinary" and "nothing out of ordinary" phrases A LOT by some reason.
Johnway: I can't remember exactly the first game i completed but i can remember it was on the Amiga. Its a toss up between dragon ninja, Robocop or z-out (there are others but i think those were the ones that i remember earliest). How did i beat these games when i was 7 years old? Well, i cheated my balls off. it was the only way i could beat most of the games on the Amiga at the time. As i got older i did beat games legitimately and i took great pride beating the more terrible ones as i was the only one skilled/stupid enough to do it in my household. Like Arnie or the Amiga edition of alien storm or midnight resistance. Partly because i was obligated to beat those games as i bought them as my birthday present in different years. looking back i regret pestering my mum into buying them.
tropicallazerbeams: I watched my older brother finish the original Diablo for PC. I remember the ending being so epic at the time it filled me with wonder. Was like watching a movie. Today that same ending would probably be so low resolution that it would hurt my eyes.
Inspireless Llama: First game I actually remember finishing myself is Rome Total War (2003). Both first in completing the short campaign (own 15 provinces and defeat your arch enemy), long campaign (own 50 provinces including Rome) and actually conquering the entire map without getting beaten by rebels.
Kaamos_Llama: Hey, so now everyone knows what finished means?
I'm pretty sure it was either Double Dragon or Golden Axe on the Atari ST. Those ZX Spectrum games I played before that were way to hard for a young kid with a dodgy Kempston joystick to get to the end of.
Frindis: The first game I remember getting to the credits was Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (1992). An adventure game from Lucasarts which I highly recommend for anyone interesting in an adventure game with a good story, fun dialogue/moments, and at times difficult puzzles.
thedoodlemachine: The first game I ever remember finishing were the Dragon Age series games! They're always artistically done between the story and the character depth, those were the first games I could never stop playing!
Verecious: Curse of the Azure bonds on C64. Miss the old gold box AD&D games
TaoPlayer: My first game I recall finishing was Wasteland, needless to say when Fallout and its line especially Fallout 4 came along I was completely hooked.
tonyjudge: Bards Tale 3. Your heroes become stars in the sky. Classic.